UNCENSORED SPEECH IN ALL TIME
Many people like to read my articles or hear me on the radio because I always tell like it is. This way of expression is within me in at all time and non dependent of whom I refer too. I’ve been known for this. People that have been following me for years know that I have no problem giving someone props and that I don’t beat around the bush to the tell the plain unvarnished truth to anyone and still remaining a gentleman.
CONVICTIONS VS THREATS
I have received public threats such as » When I’ll see him, I’ll transform him into a mommy » and I’ve been victim of lame intimidation attempts related to my ways of exposing facts about people. That did not bothered me as it should not to anyone working as a journalist or identifying himself as modern day Warrior. In the martial art field, we say that one must learn to criticize without hate. Its with this philosophy that I’ve been around many martial arts schools in America and that I do my writings. My editors have understood a while ago that I am man of conviction rather than being in popularity contest.
IT HAS TO BE A TEAM WORK
In the first week on this month, at a popular morning show, the strongest man of the country was interviewed on the radio. After 30 minutes, the radio host says : «Movies (directors) must be looking for guys like you (for roles). There must be opportunities for you, right ?» The champion having plenty of time to reply, says : « There is a documentary, well actually a movie being done right now…about Louis Cyr.» That was the end of what he had to say on the topic.
I have no words, no expression known to man kind that can really define the state of shock I was in for the 5 seconds following this statement. Impossible to imagine a better opportunity to talk about the documentary film he features in.
Never in the interviews he has made in the past weeks nor in the past years this gentle giant has thought to bring in to the discussion the director, Gino A. Vaillancourt a.k.a The Moderne Warrior, or the numerous days of shooting he has participated in La Face Cachée de la Force (The hidden face of strength) where he plays a lead part. Despite the many times we talked about it and my advice on this topic. Because you never know who will be listening to the radio or watching the television. Specially, that this film is now an independent production looking for sponsors.
Maybe my entourage is right : all I can do to give these athletes some visibility on my website, in the magazines, on the radio, by making videos, scheduling auditions and the impact that documentary film can have on their career and the visual artifact that it will provide them and their love ones : is simply not considered. In any ways. Unfortunately. « These guys don’t seem to be aware of any of that, it’s almost like they’re not supporting their own cause, told me an old friend between two glasses of rhum.»
« THIS HARHS REALITY IS PUSHING ME, TO TAKE SOME RISK, TO LIBERATE MY THOUGHTS, TO BE A JOURNALIST » – my own translation of a French song from hip-hop group, IAM.
Since 2004, I’ve been called out to give a hand in many ways : to write about unknown athletes, to take quality pictures, to make and edit video, to find spounsers and to hear them on the air. Which I’ve always done with good intentions without expecting nothing in return.
I remember being touched by the unfair treatment of an international female boxer by her own federation. She clearly needed help to find spounsors. I did a few calls and put together some people that could be able to finance her. When the time came for her to send her athlete profile and her achievements, she never did. She shots herself in the foot. Nearly a year later, she contacts me again for help. I’ll let you figure out the rest of the story…
Another time, I was contacted by the person in charge of the communication of a city hall to help a prospect athlete to be heard and seen. I agreed to help. The result : she never showed up at the radio station ( leaving me alone with my talent of improvisation), in addition, rather then answering my e-mail regarding her availability to shoot her video, she preferred posting comments on Facebook. I let you figure out the rest of the story…
« YES, I’LL BE THERE, DON’T WORRY»
I don’t even want to start to count the number of times where an athlete or someone just did not show up for a scheduled shooting… it would be too painful. To add to the drama, some don’t even show up a second time in a row. The distance driven, the rent of equipment, energy spent, impact on the budget. The supreme indifference or just pure unawareness of the consequences.
Worst, some athletes became jealous of the amount of time I spent shooting with others and complaining that there are not enough video of themselves on my website. Others won’t even take the time to share the video they feature in to their many Facebook contacts.
A fellow worker at Radio-Canada was telling me the story of a photojournalist that had given great visibility to an artistic skater from the very start and through her whole career. When she finally step on the Olympic podium and it was time to give him interview, she turned her back on him to sell her exclusivity to a major television network. Even if after her win her financial future was secured. «It’s like that. I’ve done so many news reports about teams and athlete to give them some visibility, and you know we have to carefully chose our words since our time on the air is so short. People don’t realize that it’s a lot of work. I’ve never receive any word of thank. For them it’s normal, he was telling me on the phone on a long discussion on the subject.»
In the many sports I’ve covered through the years, there has been only one person that has given me a formal word of appreciation for my work and implication (not just a comment after being asked for a feedback) for my work. That person is Mike Saunders, a strong man veteran, with a kind explicit email. I know that some people appreciate my work even if they don’t take time to mention it to me.
My main goal as a journalist and photographer is not to be showered with praise. Not at all. To me the recognition of my pears journalists, like Simon Baillargeon from Journal de Québec, and talented photographer such as Bob Lévesque, is the best one I can ever get. Still, the expression of gratitude from the people I try to help is always appreciated.
Ironically, for the past few weeks, I’ve been calling people and evaluating the possibilities of doing promotional events. It would be a found raising that would benefit the Canadian champion and helping the production of the documentary. Despite his schedule probably full, our communications are not what they should be in order to make it happen.
«IT’S YOUR MOVIE»
Yes indeed, The hidden Face of Strength is my project, my film, my vision that is slowly and step by step materializing. Still, if it would be a simple documentary made of a series of interviews and footage put together, the film would already be done. It would also be nothing different then those meaningless random soft news on some television show we see twice a year that emphazisez more on the muscle then anything else. The 12 minutes soft news on Les francs tireurs and on C’est ça la vie is the greatest example that proves my point.
The hidden Face of Strength is a film about people. That is real anthropological piece or work. You don’t get into people’s life and inside their head just like that. If you really want to know them, if you want them to open to you, to expose their true personality : you have to earn their trust. That’s a long process. The director and the athletes must be involved at the same level. Besides, those who tried to give a false image of themselves will be confronted with their own lies caught on tape.
«WHAT DO I GET FROM IT?»
In the mid 70’s, a director approached Arnold Schwarzenegger with the idea of doing a fiction documentary* about the underground world of bodybuilding. Arnold at that time had already decided to retire from the sport and decline the proposal. But the director insisted. Arnold considered all the sacrifices involved in competing another year. He finally joined the director unusual vision. Pumping Iron was born and in production. He though it could be the beginning of a new career and at least provide him with a visual work of art about this period of his life.
I do not pretend to produce a documentary film that will be as popular as Pumping Iron. At the same time, there is no one featuring in this film that comes near to what Arnold was at that time and still represent today. Nevertheless, it is appalling when athletes lose their motivation and do not participate in the project like they should. Saddening and exhausting to have to constantly convince the athletes to give a little of their time for some shootings. It’s like I have to fight to keep their interest alive for the film they feature in.
In my last article in FitnessQuébec magazine, I mention that I have made this film a professional and personal priority. Investing blindly and neglecting many aspects of my life with the ambition of getting a broadcasting license and subventions in order to establish myself as a director and to found my own production company. I am totally responsible for it. My bad. Unfortunately, I was badly advice on my paper work and victim of spending cutback from a broadcaster.
They say a 10 000 obstacles in the way doesn’t create a doubt. A nice proverb that stimulate perseverance. On the other side, the lack collaboration and mutual engagement can surely redefine your priorities and the importance you have gaven some people.
This is the reality I am living and the reason I’m writing this, other than to be read in it’s entirely by the people I work with, it is to make people think and to make them more aware. At the end, the better is their implication in the film, the more they will benefit from it.
«THE END IS IMPORTANT IN ALL THINGS» – HAGAKURÉ, samourai book written in 1710.
To be sure to be understood, this text is not a succession of diss, but a call to awareness for a better collaboration. Because, at the end everybody will benefit from it.
I have developed freinedship in the strong man field I did appreciate to celebrate new years eve with the strongest man of the country at his house. (By the way, he is a much better host then 2 others former champion I have worked with.) To be clear, this message is not intended to be a personal attack on anybody. This is why I let him know the subject of this article before I put it on my website. I wish that people take it for what it is and nothing more.
NEXT ARTICLE TO BE PUBLISHED SOON :
THE ASSESS OF THE HIDDEN FACE OF STRENGTH
*Take note that it’s well documented that this so called documentary was a piece of fiction in many ways. Many declarations of Arnold are totaly false and the reality of many people were mostly fiction in order to make the film more interesting.